Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Scientology’s 2012 in Review: The Master Goeth Before a Fall

PhoenixTheMasterWe’re still looking back at this amazing year for Scientology watchers, refreshing your memory about what got our attention in 2012.

We hope you have plenty to say as we look back at the stories that mattered in the past twelve months…

As the fall began, we were enjoying all the speculation by reviewers about the Scientology content in Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie The Master. (Those that actually knew some church history recognized that the film is shot through with it.) We pointed out how Anderson’s script was even more vicious about Hubbard and his invention than the finished movie, and we heard great suggestions from our readers about who the Joaquin Phoenix character, Freddie Quell, might be based on.

Now that contest season is heating up, expect a new round of media about Anderson’s movie — especially if it takes home a lot of little gold statues.

Other notable stories in October and November…

— In another sign that governmental agencies are finally starting to take Scientology’s controversies seriously, an Oregon labor board hit a Bend dentist with a stunning $348,000 fine for forcing an employee to attend a Scientology symposium or lose her job. She quit rather than put up with his constant pressuring, but the board decided she was entitled to the huge award for what she’d been through. The dentist is appealing the order.


— Our readers love discussing Scientology’s esoteric metaphysics! That was the inescapable conclusion after a couple of entries about an early Hubbard lecture about the history of the universe and our questions about how thetans take over meat bodies produced huge numbers of comments.

— The tabloids, likely fed by Tom Cruise’s PR people, keep pushing the line that Cruise is leaving Scientology to win back Katie Holmes or spend more time with his daughter. We explained why this persistent rumor is complete horseshit.

— One of our tipsters forwarded to us a Sea Org application that they decided not to fill out. The form, with its incredibly invasive questions, became a minor hit on the Internet as it was picked up by Buzzfeed and others.

— Another of our tipsters noticed that Tommy Davis and his wife Jessica Feshbach had been deleted from Scientology’s media relations website. So that makes it official: Tommy Davis is no longer a Scientology spokesman. (We hear that they’re both out of the Sea Org now, and living in the Austin area.)

— On Halloween, Florida attorney Ken Dandar filed a federal lawsuit against Scientology, alleging a conspiracy to corrupt the state courts and cause him financial ruin. We followed this case closely for several weeks, but at this point Dandar has been unable to get the federal courts to intervene with what’s happening at the state level.

— Coming out of Dandar’s lawsuit, however, is a blockbuster new set of allegations from Marty Rathbun, who says under oath that the church did, in fact, attempt to corrupt Florida’s investigative agencies and judges in order to derail a criminal investigation into the 1995 death of Lisa McPherson and to minimize the damage of a wrongful death lawsuit. Despite corroboration in the form of an affidavit from a former judge’s clerk and our interview with former Sea Org worker Mat Pesch, who watched $20 million in Sea Org reserves drained for the McPherson operation, there seems to be little interest from Florida officials to do anything.

— One of our most popular weekly features, previously unpublished excerpts from L. Ron Hubbard’s original dispatches at sea circa 1968-1971, comes to an end after a full year. Gosh, it was fun to sail with the Commodore while we could!

— A presidential election that features a Mormon candidate coming close to becoming US president prompts us to make a mildly humorous illustration suggesting that members of other new religions — namely, Scientology — would be intrigued by Mitt Romney’s relatively strong showing in a contest that went down to the wire. One of our more loyal commenters, Skip Press, for some reason completely misread the intention of our graphic, and he self-combusted in a spontaneous nuclear fireball. What gives, Skip? Come on back, hombre.

— We waited until November 29 to reveal what we’d witnessed back in September — the reunion of private eyes Paul Marrick and Greg Arnold with the man who hired them in 1988, Marty Rathbun, to follow Pat Broeker for the church. For the next 24 years, Marrick and Arnold kept tabs on Broeker, who church leader David Miscavige apparently still considers a threat to his grip on the organization. After their job ended, Marrick and Arnold sued, and for only a little more than one day gave interviews about what their lives as Scientology’s master spies had been like.

— The day after that story appeared, Rathbun himself revealed a surprise: he was pulling up stakes and moving to a more secure location near San Antonio after his house near Corpus Christi had been the subject of outlandish levels of church surveillance.

Next: We’ll take a look at the surprises that December had in store, and preview a few surprises coming in January.


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email